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More and more CUPE locals are finding themselves in situations where a coalition of groups makes more sense than trying to go it alone. The time invested in bringing groups together pays off in increased clout and credibility.

For example, reporters tend to believe a senior citizens group, a medical professional, or a church committee before they believe a union. Coalitions allow you to present a complete view of your issue from the perspective of workers, service users and concerned citizens. This way, more people in the public will see themselves in your campaign.

The first place to start building a coalition is to identify your allies other groups that share your views on the issue. A word of caution: It isnt always easy to get agreement on the direction of a coalition-led campaign. Coalitions take steady care. Good group-to-group communication is essential and finding compromises that dont water down your position takes care. Be patient!

Here are a few pointers:

  1. Establish contacts early. It is harder to build coalitions in the middle of a crisis.

  2. Contact labour councils and other unions first. They are our natural allies.

  3. Contact community associations, womens organizations, environmental groups and social activists. Identify ethnic and cultural groups and organizations with a natural allegiance to your service. For example, friends of medicare for a health care campaign. If youre an arena worker, hockey leagues would be a natural fit.

  4. Stay in close touch with service user groups (taxpayers associations, parent-teacher groups, health care consumers).

  5. Remember: You may have to compromise.

  6. Also remember: Coalition partners may have a different understanding of group dynamics or little knowledge of unions.

  7. Consider getting someone on the elected boards of agencies that CUPE members work for. This puts you on the inside.